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Title: Runaway electrons in tokamaks

Abstract

The generation of runaway electrons is a complex and important phenomenon that impacts many areas of plasma physics. Due to the decrease of electron collision frequency with increasing velocity, electrons under strong electric field can experience unlimited “runaway” acceleration. In tokamaks, runaway electrons can be produced in disruptions, due to the strong inductive electric field formed as the thermal energy of plasma gets rapidly lost. This population of runaway electrons can undergo an exponential growth, denoted the runaway electron avalanche, due to hard collisions between relativistic runaway electrons and low energy electrons. It is predicted that in a large tokamak device like the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a runway electron beam generated in a disruption event can potentially cause severe damage to the device, which poses a significant challenge for ITER to achieve its mission. It is therefore extremely important to seek an effective mitigation mechanism for runaway electrons. Experimental efforts have been made to study the properties of runaway electrons in tokamaks, including their generation, diffusion, and radiation. In order to understand these experimental results, extensive theoretical and simulation studies of runaway electron physics are required. The main topic of this thesis is to study the wave particlemore » interaction associated with runaway electron beams in tokamaks. The runaway electrons can emit and absorb electromagnetic waves through resonances, and can be diffused in momentum space by the waves. Initially, we address the Cherenkov radiation of runaway electrons, which originates from the polarization of the plasma medium. The energy and momentum loss of the Cherenkov radiation can be modeled by adding a correction to the Coulomb logarithm in the collisional drag force. Subsequently, we address pitch angle scattering caused by normal modes in the plasma, which are driven unstable by the anisotropicity of the runaway electron beam. The fluctuating electromagnetic fields are found to act as a seed for the unstable normal modes. Numerical simulations show that the pitch angle scattering effect from the normal modes, mainly whistler waves, can be significantly larger than that from collisional pitch angle scattering. Finally, we present a synthetic diagnostic tool we developed to calculate the electron cyclotron emission (ECE) from the runaway electrons, and successfully reproduce the prompt growth of the ECE signal observed in DIII-D quiescent runaway electron (QRE) experiments. Within the thesis, we also present the application of the adjoint method to runaway electron research, and show the calculations of the runaway probability function (RPF) and the expected loss time (ELT). These calculations not only help depict the dynamics of runaway electrons in momentum space, but also can be used to efficiently calculate experimentally relevant quantities such as the critical electric field for runaway electron avalanche and the avalanche growth rate.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States); Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Dept. of Astrophysical Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) (SC-24)
Contributing Org.:
Princeton University, NJ (United States). Dept. of Astrophysical Sciences. Program in Plasma Physics
OSTI Identifier:
1365840
DOE Contract Number:
AC02-09CH11466
Resource Type:
Thesis/Dissertation
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; cherenkov radiation fusion runaway electron synthetic diagnostic wave-particle interaction whistler wave

Citation Formats

Liu, Chang. Runaway electrons in tokamaks. United States: N. p., 2017. Web.
Liu, Chang. Runaway electrons in tokamaks. United States.
Liu, Chang. Sat . "Runaway electrons in tokamaks". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_1365840,
title = {Runaway electrons in tokamaks},
author = {Liu, Chang},
abstractNote = {The generation of runaway electrons is a complex and important phenomenon that impacts many areas of plasma physics. Due to the decrease of electron collision frequency with increasing velocity, electrons under strong electric field can experience unlimited “runaway” acceleration. In tokamaks, runaway electrons can be produced in disruptions, due to the strong inductive electric field formed as the thermal energy of plasma gets rapidly lost. This population of runaway electrons can undergo an exponential growth, denoted the runaway electron avalanche, due to hard collisions between relativistic runaway electrons and low energy electrons. It is predicted that in a large tokamak device like the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a runway electron beam generated in a disruption event can potentially cause severe damage to the device, which poses a significant challenge for ITER to achieve its mission. It is therefore extremely important to seek an effective mitigation mechanism for runaway electrons. Experimental efforts have been made to study the properties of runaway electrons in tokamaks, including their generation, diffusion, and radiation. In order to understand these experimental results, extensive theoretical and simulation studies of runaway electron physics are required. The main topic of this thesis is to study the wave particle interaction associated with runaway electron beams in tokamaks. The runaway electrons can emit and absorb electromagnetic waves through resonances, and can be diffused in momentum space by the waves. Initially, we address the Cherenkov radiation of runaway electrons, which originates from the polarization of the plasma medium. The energy and momentum loss of the Cherenkov radiation can be modeled by adding a correction to the Coulomb logarithm in the collisional drag force. Subsequently, we address pitch angle scattering caused by normal modes in the plasma, which are driven unstable by the anisotropicity of the runaway electron beam. The fluctuating electromagnetic fields are found to act as a seed for the unstable normal modes. Numerical simulations show that the pitch angle scattering effect from the normal modes, mainly whistler waves, can be significantly larger than that from collisional pitch angle scattering. Finally, we present a synthetic diagnostic tool we developed to calculate the electron cyclotron emission (ECE) from the runaway electrons, and successfully reproduce the prompt growth of the ECE signal observed in DIII-D quiescent runaway electron (QRE) experiments. Within the thesis, we also present the application of the adjoint method to runaway electron research, and show the calculations of the runaway probability function (RPF) and the expected loss time (ELT). These calculations not only help depict the dynamics of runaway electrons in momentum space, but also can be used to efficiently calculate experimentally relevant quantities such as the critical electric field for runaway electron avalanche and the avalanche growth rate.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Thesis/Dissertation:
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  • The evolution of a runaway electron tail driven by a subcritical dc electric field in a magnetized plasma is studied numerically using a quasi-linear numerical code (2-D in v- and k-space) based on the Ritz-Galerkin method and finite elements. Three different regimes in the evolution of the runaway tail depending on the strength of the dc electric field and the ratio of plasma to gyrofrequency, were found. The tail can be (a) stable and the electrons are accelerated to large parallel velocities, (b) unstable to the Cerenkov resonance due to the formation of a positive slope on the runaway tail,more » (c) unstable to the anomalous Doppler resonance instability driven by the large velocity anisotropy in the tail. Once an instability is triggered (Cerenkov or anomalous Doppler resonance) the tail relaxes into an isotropic distribution resulting in less acceleration. The synchrotron emission of the runaway electrons shows large enhancement in the radiation level at the high-frequency end of the spectrum during the pitch-angle scattering of the fast particles. The results are relevant to recent experimental data from the Princeton Large Torus (PLT) during current-drive experiments and to the microwave bursts observed during solar flares.« less
  • The role of the internal separatrix in plasma confinement and the properties of a runaway-modified discharge were studied in the Proto-Cleo torsatron. Two-dimensional profiles of plasma current and density revealed peaking of these quantities off the midplane and allowed for comparisons to analytical and numerical calculations. An investigation of the poloidal distribution of particles in the divertor region concluded that the flux peaks at the apices of the external separatrix, in agreement with numerical calculations. Experimental estimates of the magnitude of runaway current and the relaxation time of a runaway instability were found to be in reasonable agreement with theoreticalmore » predictions. Electron temperature increases on the order of 50% were observed due to the instability.« less
  • High energy runaway electrons in the Oak Ridge tokamak ORMAK have been investigated through measurement of the bremsstrahlung produced when these electrons leave the discharge and strike the limiting aperture of the torus. The experimental results have been interpreted in terms of a classical single-particle model appropriate for collisionless particles in a tokamak, and it has been found that most of the confinement properties of high energy runaways in ORMAK can be understood on this basis. An experiment designed to directly test this model has disclosed an anomalous transport which has been described by a runaway diffusion coefficient D approximatelymore » 10 2 to 10 4 cm 2sec appropriate for runaways near the outside of the plasma. A discussion of the possible mechanisms for this anomalous transport is given.« less